Saturday, June 27, 2009

Color Beautiful

I've been admiring my skein of Rook-y Silk Thread 2 that showed up yesterday, and as I look at it I think it may represent everything I love about color.

(Disclaimer: I have no education in color. I'm not an artist. I'm a science geek that likes lots of different things, and sometimes tries to reconcile it with the facts and figures that I may or may not be remembering accurately.)

(Disclaimer #2: I didn't sleep last night because some morons downstairs decided to assemble furniture until 1am, and that of course kept all of us up. I may be rambling just a tiny bit...)

As I've been becoming more and more of a knitter, I've determined that I have to knit what I like, both in pattern and in color. I'd love to have some nice warm mittens for myself, but I just don't really like knitting mittens. I love knit socks, but I don't have the patience for knitting them lately (not to mention that the combination of small needles and tight gauge aggravates my hands). So, I try to only work on patterns that I enjoy, that relax me, which for me does include complicated lace, strangely enough.

The color aspect also figures heavily in my enjoyment of a piece. From a young age, I always loved bright, multicolored things. I was all about the rainbow belts, sparkly t-shirts, and of course make-up well before I should've been wearing it. Make-up artist is my back-up career, and I've loved playing with color. I used to yearn for anything irridescent - fairies with those plastic rainbow wings, costumes with black irridescent beads. I can still spend hours gazing at soap bubbles, watching the swirls of color move back and forth, needing to get close up to see the intensity of the different hues.

I don't claim to know the difference, but I have a few friends that are painters, and I know from my science background that there's a difference between how color is perceived in pigments versus colored light. I have very basic knowledge from highschool and college physics, and I know that pigments reflect/absorb light differently. One thing that always stuck with me, though, was from an advanced histology course I took in university, and I think of it when I look at Rook-y, or at any of the Raven series from BMFA.

It was about the structure of feathers.

(and again, I apologize if I'm oversimplifying, or if I'm wrong; this is what I remember about that series of lectures)

Feathers are composed of a protein, keratin. In their natural state, the color of a feather is a result of reflected light that depends on the protein crystal structure. It's not pigment - the beautiful, intense, irridescence that we see on feathers, particularly the gorgeous greens and blues that shine on black feathers, is light. To me, that was the neatest, coolest effect I'd ever learned about, since I always thought that we can only get intense colors from pigment. I also loved the fact that this gorgeous effect was 'constructed' from light.

So, to me, that makes this yarn even more beautiful, and it makes me appreciate the skills of our hand dyers even more. I think the silk takes dye more intensely, but still has that lovely sheen. It really does look like they took feathers and spun them into silk. How Tina managed to capture light in her dye, I'll never know.

I'm really looking forward to tackling this project once the Shipwreck is done. I won't even wind the yarn until that point, though; it's just too beautiful to resist.

Friday, June 26, 2009


... is good.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bad. Bad bad bad.

Although, maybe not as bad as it could be.

I've actually been knitting on my Shipwreck a little bit in the evenings, and it's coming along... I have something like 20 more rounds in the border lace, and then a big ol' bind off round, and it'll be done. Once it's bound off, I'll track down a big pot to dye that sucker in, and be supremely proud of myself (hopefully).

Of course, I'm planning on my next projects before my existing ones are finished, and it's always bad to do that. I still have the Central Park Hoodie in the line-up, but I really don't feel like knitting myself a huge sweater right now. I'm liking the lace, but wanting a challenge, so I'm going to do Aeolian from Knitty Spring '09.

(pardon my laziness, but I can't bring myself to make all the linky in this post, except to say that Maia inspired me to tackle Aeolian, and I hope I'm worthy).

So, I ordered myself some laceweight silk. Gah.

I'm still trying to sort through all my crap here to prepare for our move (in four weeks, dammit), and I have way too much yarn. I'm nearly finished the Boteh scarves for N.'s teachers, and I also like the crochet nearly as much as lace, so a few weeks ago I bought a bunch of Cascade 22o to do some amigurumi once we move and are settled. But this morning I proved that I can't enter my LYS anymore, since I have no willpower.

I went in to see if I could get an Addi for the Aeolian (the largest version calls for a US2 32" circ). They didn't have any US2's, but are willing to order one in for me if I decide to go that route. (Un?)fortunately they were having a volume sale, along with clearance, so I ended up with a royal blue/green/grey skein of Noro Silk Garden sock (for my mom, I swear) and another skein of 220 in a green I couldn't get last time (both of which were 20% off), and three pretty little creamy-pinky-peachy balls of Crystal Palace Musique that were $3, down from $11.50 each! No pics, though, because the lighting today is totally crappy. The whole lot ended up being an average of 50% off the original prices.

And the silk laceweight? BMFA Silk Thread 2. It looks like it'll be GAWGEOUS.

*Sigh* I so don't want to pack boxes. Or clothes. Or dishes. I think I'll just catapult everything into the moving van in one fell swoop, see what comes out the other side.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

How many ways can I say Meme?

A - Age: 29+

B - Bed size: Queen

C - Chore you hate: ironing

D - Dog's name(s): no pets

E - Essential to start your day: coffee

F - Favorite color(s): pink, purple, green, yellow

G - Gold or Silver: gold

H - Height: 5'7"

I - Instruments you play: flute, piccolo, alto sax, tenor sax, violin

J - Job title: postdoctoral associate

K - Kids: 1

L - Living arrangements: 1 bedroom apt with Hubby and N., soon to be 2 bedroom apartment

M- Most delicious treat: cake

N - Nicknames: Ellie

O - Overnight stay in hospital: only once, when N. was born

P - Pet Peeve: sidewalk hogs

Q - Quote from a movie: It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

R - Right or left handed: Right

S - Siblings: 2 brothers

T - Time you wake up: 7:00am

U - Underwear: yes

V - Vegetable you dislike: fennel

W - Workout style: ha ha

X - X-rays you've had: one wrist, several ankle, one chest

Y - Yesterday's best moment: picking up N. at daycare and having him walk over to me all by himself!

Z - Zoo favorite animal: big cats, peacocks

Monday, June 8, 2009

That way madness lies.

(With respects to Wm. Shkspr)

I've been running around and around in circles lately, not taking much time for reflection, or writing, or even a scarce breath, and I can feel the downward spiral begin, back off, and then begin again its inexorable turn. This post has been brewing for a while, and it has nothing to do with any sort of needlecraft or hobby or anything fun.

This happens to me periodically, although not as frequently in the past months. I think the last time was actually a freak-out leading up to going back to work after mat leave, about 6 weeks before I was due to report to the lab. That one was easily explained by hormones and lack of sleep, but this one has been a bit more difficult to pin down.

I've been dealing with work, of course, but that stress is pretty much self-inflicted. I try to do too much, I imagine horrible things, and I beat myself up for experiments that didn't work, but likely had no business working anyway.

There's a part of the work-stress that's not under my control, and that's my contract extensions, and it looks like the economy may finally hit close to home with us. We're privately funded, and have been able to get contract extensions based on our progress and potential quite nicely since I started. The original project was only supposed to take 9 months, but of course those types of estimates are rarely accurate, and we kept on working long past that. Unfortunately for me, this last extension was only for three months, and I may be out of work this fall. The problem is that it's so uncertain, I have no idea whether to look for another position, or hope we can extend past our existing contract.

We can afford for me not to work. We essentially live on one salary, and can continue to do that if I stay home provided we pull the baby out of daycare (and go back to the bottom of the waiting list). I think I can afford to keep him *in* for a couple of months, while I look for another job, but not much more than two or three. Of course, all this is outside my control at this point, and I'm keeping my eyes out for another position that can tide us over until Hubby finishes and we can move back home. So, that aspect of life, while scary, is completely expected, and we have lots of ways to deal with it.

We're also dealing with the M-I-L, but that's nothing new. She's extremely high maintenance, and totally not grounded in reality, and we're eventually going to have to send Hubby up to get her to stay in one place (rather than change apartments every 6 weeks; long story, trust me you don't want to hear it). Right now, she's been stable in the same place for almost three weeks, and seems pretty happy, so we're running with it. I know it's temporary, and the most we'll get out of this place is a few months until the weather starts to change again, so I'm waiting until the end of the summer to start actively worrying about that. And, she's healthy and safe, and has people checking in on her, so it's really not so terrible.

There is one thing I'm not directly dealing with in my day-to-day life, but it never leaves my mind for more than a few hours - my grandmother. Her Alzheimers is getting worse and worse, and my parents are doing their best to make life as normal as possible for everyone involved, but it's so hard. She's at the stage now where she can't make new memories, and she's having a hard time keeping things current for more than a few minutes. Mom will bring her over dinner, put it in the fridge for later, and call before bed, only to find Grammie had forgotten that there even was food in the fridge. She also believes her parents are still alive, and waiting down in the country at her childhood home (which was torn down almost 20 years ago). She keeps saying she needs to go and visit "Mumma and Daddy", and it's so classic that it just kills me. Alzheimers patients often regress like this, and eventually they get to a stage where it does more harm than good to remind them of the truth. My mom used to gently remind her that she's almost 90 years old, and ask her to think where her parents really might be, then she would feel stupid and angry at herself for forgetting. Now, if she gets reminded, or remembers on her own, she gets upset and can't believe that her parents are gone, and have been gone for 40 years. Each day she sets aside her best clothes, because she believes they'll "fit Mumma better" and she'll "bring them down to the country for Mumma when we go visit".

I hate rambling on about this, but I'm pretty sure it's the main contributor to my latest feeling of disconnect, of standing outside my own life in everything except my relationship with N. (who is the best, smartest toddler and saves my life every day), and my darling Hubby. I talk to Grammie on the phone every week, and she sometimes remembers me, sometimes remembers N.'s name, but even when she does, I can tell she only barely remembers. She forgot a few weeks ago that she had a granddaughter, until she was reminded of my name. This disease is so horrible, to have to watch a person disappear while she is still right in front of you, physically very healthy, but mentally absent.

I have so many facets that make up "me". I'm a mother, I'm a wife, I'm a daughter, a sister twice over (my relationships with each of my brothers are very distinct, and are both so important in their own ways), I'm a sister-in-law, a daughter-in-law, a cousin and niece, a scientist, a knitter, a best friend. And, I'm a granddaughter. Some of these facets are recent, nearly brand new; some are years old. I've been some of these things since I was born, and some only a couple of years.

Some of these facets are mine alone, and some are totally dependent on other people. I'm a knitter because I chose to embrace that part of my personality; I'm a scientist because I'm good at it. N. makes me a mom, and he lets me be make mistakes as I try to be the best mom I can be. Hubby makes me a wife, and I'm so lucky to have him. And so on.

I'm a granddaughter for my grandmother, but I don't know how to be a granddaughter as she disappears. I feel like I have to remember *for* her, but I can't do it for her, and the more we remind her, the harder she takes it. I also can't remember from her point of view, so I just remember from mine - the Christmases, the birthdays, the Sunday dinners; the baking lessons and sewing lessons, playing cards for pennies at her kitchen table.

I'm trying to keep a sense of myself as this goes on, and it's so hard. The thing that hurts is that as she disappears, I feel like I'm disappearing too, and it's so scary. I have her name, and a huge part of my story is tied up with hers, written over 30 years, and the ink is fading, and the paper is crumbling.